Shaved heads and stress before the start: Checking in with Lizzie Williams after Giro Rosa stage eight

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Australian cyclist Lizzie Williams is racing the Giro Rosa, the longest (and only) Grand Tour on the women’s calendar, for the first time this year. And to give you a-behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to race at the highest level and at one of the most prestigious races in women’s cycling, Lizzie graciously agreed to do daily check-ins for the next 10 days of racing -no matter what might happen.

Read all her diary entries here.

Also be sure to check out Tiffany Cromwell’s diary as she is racing and writing about her eighth Giro.

Word of the day: “Weary but also happy. Just one more massive stage to go!”

Result of the day: 19th // Read about stage eight in the Ella race report.

The racing

Today was the all-important time trial. With just 36 seconds separating the top five overall contenders, this race was going to set up the general classification. But, without a general classification contender, the Orica-AIS team was focusing on individual performances, with Kat Garfoot as their best shot at a result.

“Kat came with claws out today, and almost clawed her way onto the podium. It was a great ride. We are really, really happy for her. She only missed the podium by under one second. Fantastic ride by her, and she’s got her mojo back now.

And what a ride from Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv). I want to know what she ate for breakfast! It’s pretty amazing to do over a minute on second place. And Megan [Guarnier] (Boels-Dolmans) put down a ripper ride!

My ride was really good. Technically, I had handled the course well. Kat and I had trained on the route a number of times in training. [Sport director] Gene Bates took us over there a few weeks back, and we rode it a few times then, and I went back last week and rode it one last time. So we knew the course really well. I just need to get stronger, but I am pretty pleased with a top 20 result.”

Stress at the start

“I get pretty stressed before a prologue or TT. To get everything on is pretty hard. Warming up it’s like 50 degrees and you’re so sweaty so to put everything on feels like putting on a wet wetsuit. And then you’ve got infant size gloves you’ve got to put on. That’s why I warm up with my gloves and booties on and my skinsuit rolled down. There’s no way I can get those on after I have warmed up. It’s just too stressful.

So all I have to put on really is my helmet. I have pretty thick hair but I have gone and shaved half of the back of my head –I have a bit of an undercut at the moment –purely to be able to fit my head in the helmet.

So I got off the bike after warming up, and I had about 15 minutes before my start time. I knew riding to the start would take about four or five minutes. I am putting on my helmet, and my swanny is helping me, when suddenly the visor of my helmet pops off! So I was getting stressed, and we couldn’t get the helmet on. They tell me to just ride over to the start, which I do but without my helmet on and I’m stressing out because I have like five minutes before I ride. But Gene Bates calmed me down and helped me get my helmet on with a minute to go. So once again it was a bit of a stressful start. I definitely had the adrenaline going!

Also, I’m just going to shave my head. I have been thinking about it for a while now with all the stress I go through putting on my helmet, the motivation is high now.”

Onto the final stage

“The plan for tomorrow? To go down dying! I’m just going to give everything I’ve got left. We’re going to want to try and instigate a break early. None of us, apart from Kat, can climb with the best so we need a head start. If a break can get up the road, we need one of us in it.”

We’ll be checking in with Lizzie again tomorrow after the final stage. In the meantime, there’s lots more Giro Rosa content for you to enjoy on Ella!

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